The latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, continues the franchiseâ€™s progressive departure from fun. All the bright, festive colors that decorated the earlier films have vanished, leaving these young wizards to play out their drama within a spectrum ranging from black to dark blue. Though the film is still enjoyable, it lacks some of the imaginative fancy of its predecessors.
The acting is solid enough all around aside from the nagging suspicion that Daniel Radcliffe is starting to tire of playing Harry. This could be attributed to the character's loss of his child-like innocence, but it feels as if Radcliffe is applying less energy in his performance.The rest of the cast performs as we've come to expect of them, with Alan Rickman's Snape maintaining a firm, stoic exterior covering mysterious purposes and Emma Watson playing the overly mature and highly inquisitive Hermione. The character of Draco Malfoy, played by Tom Felton, has gone from having the nuance of evil to being a blatant villain who wanders around Hogwarts with obvious sinister intentions that somehow only Harry notices. The other members of the story's evil army join in on this lack of mystique, being reduced to ill-wishing hooligans set on continual destruction rather than the presence of intimidation that they had been previously.
Like The Lord of the Rings, the Potter series borrows its central theme from the Norse myth of the Nibelung, but as the film's designers begin to explore the tale's darker sides the two epics begin to have more visual similarities. While searching an island in a dark, underground lake, Harry is attacked by what looks like a multitude of Gollums, and Professor Dumbledore continues to become more and more reminiscent of Gandalf. These resemblances are not a big issue by themselves, but do contribute to the overall muddling of Potter's visual identity.
With the villains being less threatening, the plot twists less intriguing, and the relationship dramas more tacked-on and less engaging, there is a sense that something is missing from this episode of the ongoing Potter saga. In short, it feels as if Harry has blown his wad. Fans of the novels will undoubtedly feel that the film suffers from screenwriter Steve Kloves's inability to cram all of J. K. Rowling's details into a two-and-a-half-hour film. Blame could also be place with director David Yates and his choices on how to handle the look of these later episodes. Either way, one has to wonder: if the series had begun in this manner, would it have been able to obtain the box office numbers that it has garnered over the past eight years? - C. Jefferson Thom
Mr. Thom lives in New York City and walks dogs, writes plays, and loves dissecting pop culture.